The British Horseracing Authority launched a new initiative yesterday to give trainers the opportunity to shape the make up of the race programme. The Interactive Race Planning trial will start at Lingfield Park on 4 April and continue with a further 22 races between then and the end of June, one on the card at each meeting selected.
In short, the trial sets out to enable trainers to indicate online specific races they wish to see programmed in the short term, providing opportunities for horses that are ready to run but currently have no suitable races. Trainers will use an online forum on the BHA’s website to nominate hoses for which they cannot find a race over an appropriate distance or with conditions that allow it to run.
Although they’ll have to name the horse, other trainers won’t be able to see this information. They will, though, know the terms of the race sought, and be able to support it with their own nominations. The BHA’s Racing Department will take into account the quality and type of race(s) proposed, the number of potential runners, and whether there are in fact similar races at the time the opportunity is on offer.
The BHA plans to announce the conditions for each race around 10 days in advance and then to apply normal entry and declaration deadlines.
In the next three months 15 different tracks under Jockey Club Racecourses and Arena Leisure ownership will host one of the trainer nominated races, with 16 flat race opportunities and seven over the jumps. But there are plans to extend the initiative to all circuits during the remainder of 2012.
The Levy Board is using some of the new £500,000 “Racing and Betting Special Initiatives Fund” to underwrite the trial, money the BHA was quick to recognise had made a major contribution to getting the trial under way.
Ruth Quinn, Director of Racing at the BHA said, “The concept of Interactive Race Planning is something that we have been keen to trial for some time. We believe that there is a role for it and very much hope that trainers will take advantage of the opportunity. The trial will run to the end of the year and hopefully it will become an accepted part of race programming. Getting the idea off the ground has taken time. Levy Board funding has obviously been enormously helpful, and the BHA, racecourse and the Horsemen’s Group have all worked together to get behind the initiative, thereby enabling the concept to become reality.”
Now, it’s over to the trainers to make it work.